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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Well done Prof. Brian Cox

I have just watched a short segment on Newsnight where Brian Cox rightfully gave Sir David King a well deserved spanking (to his face) for his recent comments.

King thinks that we should stop curiosity driven research and only look at solving specific problems in the world today. A reasonable argument at first glance with the difficulties that face us in the world.

But as Brian pointed out (and Sir Martin Reece pointed out in the Guardian) that argument could have been made at any point in history and we would be without much of the technological advances and knowledge that we have gained as a side product of curiosity driven science.

And on this day, actually, the day when for once physics is part of culture, and the headlines of every newspaper, every news broadcast in the world I don't think the President of the British Association of the Advancement of Science should be pouring cold water on that on this day of all days
Very well done Brian.


Schmidt said...

Kav, and you think Science is without risks? At some point in time, someone has to put their foot down. Not to stop all science, just if there's a risk of taking life, specially an entire planet.

I know, I know, CERN submitted a safety report. They're the experts, so we should keep our traps shut. Just one problem, their safety report is based on theories, meaning they don't know until it's proven if it's safe or not. And you're comfortable with this?

I know "Science! Science!" And I'm all for science. Infact, I majored in physics. And the one thing I learned, specially from friends who work at CERN, that higher up prefer book smart graduates who worship CERN, not independent thinkers, real geniuses, who have taken what they learned and expanded on it with new calculations correcting questionable theories that haven't been proven. They cornered the genius market, so there is no room for more, specially in conflict with them.

For a world that's so advance, it can't take care of it's problems, just create new ones.

Now curiosity driven research should go on, but in the case of CERN's bogus LHC safety report, CERN should be stopped until a truly independent report is conducted followed up by tough questions by the media. If they can survive that, then game on!

The people at CERN don't know what's going to happen, which proves their safety report is a bunch of BS. Your boy Brian Cox admits this almost every time he opens his mouth.

Kav said...

Schmidt, the concerns surrounding the LHC were not the topic of this post. King was not telling them not to invest in CERN because of the inherent dangers but because he thinks the time for curiosity driven science is mostly over. I too have concerns over the vast amounts of money spent on things like CERN but King's approach is both wrong and potentially disasterous.

As to safety, first of all I am not a particle physicist, I have no interest in CERN except in the pure sense of the word.

Secondly, claims about blackholes destroying the world are so dumb as to be insulting. Collisions of that energy take place in our atmosphere all the time, the difference with the LHC is that we will be able to see a lot of what is going on. When Brian says he does not know what will happen he means he doesn't know exactly what exotic particles we might see from said collisions and whether the observations will support the current theories or demolish them completely. That should have been obvious from the context.

Too many people have whipped up a false hype and hysteria about this and too many easily swayed folk have subsequently wet themselves.